Photo-related gifts?
February 24, 2009 3:07 PM   Subscribe

I secretly sent away a bunch of my mom's old family photos for digital scanning. What are some cool birthday gifts I could make/order/buy for her that would make use of the resulting images? Additional specs within.

The photos in question are a miscellaneous collection spanning ~60 years-- about 180 images, although I don't have to use all or even most of them. I'm mainly confused about how to pick a gift that actually adds value to the photos themselves, which are (obviously) already in my mom's possession. For example, I was originally thinking a printed photo-book, but in order to make it different from just slapping the existing photos in an album, I'd probably have to add some kind of text or tell some sort of story, and browsing the photobook sample sites hasn't given me any great ideas for organizing principles for such a book.

I'd love to hear any and all suggestions, either book ideas or other, less beaten-path gifts incorporating old photos. If it helps, I've got access to both Photoshop and Illustrator (some experience with the former, less with the latter, although I'm a quick study in software) and would ideally like the final product to fall in the $25- $75 range.
posted by yersinia to Shopping (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This may seem kind of obvious but maybe an ornate digital photo frame?
posted by Talez at 3:13 PM on February 24, 2009

Best answer: Calendars are always a big hit - you can order calendars that start w/ any month you choose if you don't want to wait until the new year.

Load them onto a digital picture frame.

Make a DVD and set them to music.

Transfer some pictures onto fabric, have them made into a "memory quilt"

If you have access to any family recipies, make a cookbook and put a picture of a family member who made that recipe, or an event where it was served, next to the recipe itself.

Marble magnets (super easy - google for instructions)

Incorporate some of them into a shadow box with a few cherished momentos.
posted by Ostara at 3:13 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get a cheap piece of wooden furniture. Print a bunch of the photos to cheap paper. Glue. Varnish. Decoupage!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:23 PM on February 24, 2009

Install iPhoto or put them on Flickr so she (and family and friends) can annotate them with descriptions, mark up people, and history of the photos themselves.

Note: My older relatives still get a little weirded out have photos "On The Internet!!"since somehow that means a thief can rob you. Or maybe the internet steals your soul or something.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:31 PM on February 24, 2009

Best answer: I have had GREAT success with photo books. Everyone I have made them for (five at last count) have loved them. Although it seems like just putting the pictures in an album, you can do a whole lot of other things too.

For my grandmothers, I made them a "my life story" book. Here is how I organized them:

1. Start with early photos of them and their parents/siblings/family. The old-timey black and white photos were especially well received, as I spent some time cleaning them up in Photoshop to be both bigger and look a lot nicer than the ones I scanned. Make sure to identify people by name and relationship, or leave some room for notes around the photos. You can also tell family stories or make remarks about what you see when you look at the photos. Like "see how X young person today resembles old Y! It's only the clothes that are different". Or write up your observations regarding clothes/settings/etc. in the old photos.

2. Add pictures of the person as a young adult and with their spouse. The best parts are things like pictures with them and their spouse when they were dating, or even better with some old flame! My one grandmother just loved the old photos I included of her with old boyfriends. Add photos of them with their spouse at various times in their lives - as newlyweds, with their first kid or first house, as proud grandparents, etc. You can make a background graphic with a timeline, for example, and add photos to it. Collages work great for this.

3. Add a family tree, then make a section of the book for each of the persons on the tree. Since it was for my grandparents, each of my aunts/uncles had their own section, highlighting them and their kids. It had wedding pictures for kids and grandkids, and the story of each family, their lives from when they got married through today, etc.

4. Finally, add photos that strike you as especially meaningful, then add some poems or thoughts, or song lyrics that fit the pictures and the meaning behind them. For example, for one grandmother I added the lyrics to her favorite song - called "Open Landscapes" - with a background picture of the view from her summer cottage.

For my brother's birthday book, I just took all the photos and sorted them into chapters by personality or activity. My brother the funny kid/fisherman/ski jumper/father/husband/evil big brother/engineer, etc. Then I added my thoughts and stories to the pictures. Say, a picture of him and me with huge grins and holding a huge fish each, together with my written story of what I remember from that day.

Like I said, the picture books have been huge hits, not just for the recipient but for the entire family. Depending on the work you put in, they can be so much more than just a photo album. I have had great success with, particularly using the Photoshop templates from The Art of Engineering.
posted by gemmy at 4:47 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check Cafepress - they have a bunch of blank items you can customize with your photos.
Check Photojojo - they find the best photo shiz anywhere.
posted by leigh1 at 4:51 PM on February 24, 2009

Here are some ideas:

Give them to an artist, have the artist paint a portrait purely from photos (doesn't need to be digital for this)

Kinkos has a catalog of a bunch of pretty inexpensive items they can insert photos into, like calendars and mugs.

like Ostara said, DVD...lots of small production houses or videography places do this (I worked at one for a summer); you could add videos too if you have them

a cake (is that weird?)
posted by world b free at 5:52 PM on February 24, 2009

I second gemmy's idea. You can find beautiful photo books online. Another one to take a look at is lulu. A photo book is a lovely keepsake and it can be displayed easily, never goes out of date (like a calendar, although lord knows I love photo calendars!) and looks good on the shelf or coffee table.
posted by cachondeo45 at 6:29 PM on February 24, 2009

My wife's aunt took an image of our son and and screen printed it to fabric which she made into a decorative pillow for his room.

But I've got to say, I really like the idea of a real family cookbook, with a recipe from each person or each activitiy or time in her life like Ostara said...
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:31 PM on February 24, 2009

I've used Designs on Demand a few times for photo gifts with great results. They have mugs, buttons, magnets, calendars, etc. at very reasonable prices. You just email the photo(s) and they put it all together for you. They email you a "proof" for your approval before actually making and shipping the item. I've been quite impressed with the quality and quick service each time I've used them.
posted by ourroute at 7:18 PM on February 24, 2009

Does she like to go on line at all? I scanned and blogged all the family stories associated with our old photo album as a family Christmas gift. If she doesn't go online much, but has a computer, you could still do this and just download it to a disc viewable on a computer or DVD player/tv.
posted by nax at 3:10 AM on February 25, 2009

are you presenting the gift to her at a special event, e.g. her birthday or a wedding anniversary? if it's some kind of party or family gathering, it might be nice to arrange a surprise screening of a slideshow of the photos for everyone to watch. a cousin did that at a parent's birthday party and many from the older generation were moved to tears just looking at the old photos and talking about the memories they brought up.
posted by skaye at 1:29 PM on February 25, 2009

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